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Piercings and Psoriasis: Is It Safe?

Posted on December 20, 2021
Medically reviewed by
Kevin Berman, M.D., Ph.D.
Article written by
Sarah Winfrey

“Has anyone had any experiences with piercings and psoriasis?” one MyPsoriasisTeam member asked. Those interested in getting body piercings may wonder whether it is safe to do so or whether getting piercings may activate their psoriasis.

Because not everyone with psoriasis has the same triggers, each person has to figure out what sets off the condition in their own body. That said, if you are thinking about getting a piercing, it is best to talk to your doctor, dermatologist, or another health care provider for information on how it may affect your particular case. Also, knowing the potential effects piercings can have on anyone with psoriasis can help you make the best decisions about any body modifications you get.

Skin Damage and Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a skin condition that involves the overactivation of part of the immune system. Flare-ups of the condition can be caused, or triggered, by a number of different factors. Factors can include infections, skin damage, exposure to hot or cold weather, and more.

People with psoriasis may experience new psoriasis lesions when they experience some form of skin injury or trauma. This is known as the Koebner phenomenon.

In people who experience the Koebner phenomenon, everything from tiny cuts and scrapes to bug bites or major injuries can trigger psoriasis at an injury site. One member explained their experience with this phenomenon: “I have Koebner’s, and when I get cut or one of my joints is hurting … bam! I get psoriasis in that spot every time.”

A piercing is one type of elective skin trauma that can cause this phenomenon. Tattoos are another type, as well as any other procedure that damages the skin. That means most forms of body modification could cause a person with psoriasis to react with new lesions where their skin is broken.

Some people with psoriasis never experience the Koebner phenomenon, while others experience it every time their skin is damaged — no matter how minor that may be. Because of this, individuals will need to evaluate their own experience before they decide whether or not a body piercing is right for them.

Read more about skin injuries and psoriasis.

Allergies and Psoriasis

Allergic reactions, in general, can cause psoriasis flares, and metal allergies are common triggers among people with psoriasis. Thus, even if the process of getting the piercing does not make your psoriasis flare, the jewelry that is inserted after the piercing may cause problems. Nickel is the most common culprit for reactions, and small amounts of it are often in jewelry that is labeled as gold or silver.

Members of MyPsyriasisTeam have recommended certain metals to help avoid allergic reactions or skin irritation. As one member advised, “I wear gold or stainless steel, but I would suggest sticking to gold or silver, as metal allergies and psoriasis are like best friends.” Another member added, “I had my brow pierced and ear pierced. I used silver and got psoriasis. The tattoo place told me to try gold. It’s been 20 years now, and I’ve been fine.”

There are some metals, like titanium and surgical stainless steel, that are labeled hypoallergenic. However, people diagnosed with psoriasis may even be sensitive to these. You may want to talk to your dermatologist about how to safely test your reactions to different types of metals commonly found in earrings or body jewelry.

Once you have determined the metals that do not aggravate your psoriasis, you can ask your piercer for jewelry made of that safe option. Keep in mind that there may be an additional cost associated with picking out certain types of metals.

Things To Remember When Getting a Piercing

There is no way to guarantee that a piercing in your ear, on your face, at your belly button, or elsewhere will not cause irritation or a psoriasis flare-up. However, there are some things you can do to give yourself the best possible chance of avoiding an adverse reaction.

In addition to the list below, make sure you talk to your doctor or dermatology specialist before getting pierced. They can provide medical advice on how piercings may affect your particular case of psoriasis, and they can give you additional tips and information to help avoid a flare.

Look for a Reputable Establishment

A reputable piercing studio is one that has long-standing experience with performing piercings and has a clean, hygienic studio. This drastically improves your chances of avoiding problems with your piercing.

Avoid Piercing a Flare-Prone Area

It is best to avoid getting pierced at a location where you have had a psoriasis flare. While it is always possible to develop flares at new sites, it is a less likely possibility. If you pierce an area with a history of psoriasis flares, your symptoms may be more likely to come back after the piercing. Prior history of flaring after a piercing is a good indicator that it is likely to happen again.

Don’t Get Pierced During a Flare-up

Be sure to only get pierced when you are not experiencing a psoriasis flare. If your psoriasis flares up after you’ve made your appointment, explain the situation and reschedule. Most piercers will be happy to do so. While it may be disappointing to wait for a much-anticipated piercing, it is best to allow your skin time to heal and to avoid worsening your symptoms.

Ask About Aftercare

It is important to know what to expect during the healing process. Take time to talk to your piercer about how to care for and clean the piercing site after you’ve been pierced. Most piercing studios will give clients aftercare instructions at the time of the appointment. Many will also provide or sell products that will keep the piercing site clean. If you are concerned that these products may trigger your psoriasis, ask your dermatologist to recommend a cleansing product prior to your appointment.

Let Your Piercer Know About Your Condition

Talk to your piercer about your psoriasis before you get pierced. Let them know what you deal with in particular when it comes to your case of psoriasis. Assure them that you have your doctor’s support for getting the piercing, then let them know what you need them to do to reduce your chances of experiencing a psoriasis flare.

Find Your Team

Living with psoriasis can come with many questions. At MyPsoriasisTeam, more than 100,000 members from around the world come together to offer advice, support, and answers to questions just like this one.

Have you had piercings with psoriasis? Share your experience or tips in the comments below or by posting on MyPsoriasisTeam.

All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.
Kevin Berman, M.D., Ph.D. is a dermatologist at the Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Learn more about him here.
Sarah Winfrey is a writer at MyHealthTeam. Learn more about her here.

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